The Shimano SLX spinning rod features a somewhat pared-down design given the range of signature technologies introduced by the brand.
Thankfully, Shimano’s advanced technologies still find room to shine with the Shimano SLX’s top-notch components for tournament-level performance. On top of that, this rod fits nicely in the mid-tier price range.
Of course, a price range won’t tell you whether or not the affordable price of the Shimano SLX matches its fishing experience– regardless of the premium components used.
That’s why this review breaks down the Shimano SLX to see how it stacks up next to other fishing rod heavyweights and figure out if you can justify the fishing gear investment.
- Great for smooth casting
- Can handle braided line
- Multiple action settings
- EVA foam handle
- Not many lengths
- Not the most sensitive
Construction (craftsmanship, make quality)
The Shimano SLX uses a 24-ton carbon construction which isn’t the strongest option out there but still provides multiple drag power ranges which work well for versatile anglers.
However, ultimate durability isn’t this pole’s primary concern, despite the premium carbon blank, making it a less than ideal choice for saltwater fishing.
However, it might be the grip that stands out the most, at least as refers to the construction, with a middlegrip length made of carbon fiber.
The reargrip length also features a carbon fiber end cap, though that’s not quite as unusual– but it’s still certainly not the norm. Regardless, both of these designs inform the Shimano SLX’s purpose.
This approach continues when you consider the Shimano SLX’s reel seat which is “custom,” though that doesn’t mean you get to customize it or choose between different models.
Instead, this reel seat was designed specifically to fit the Shimano SLX casting reel– though it accepts a variety of different reels with a compact body and low-profile design.
Not often is the length that notable, but the Shimano SLX stands out in this category– though it’s not necessarily for a good reason.
Mobile anglers may rejoice given that they don’t have to worry about carrying around longer, heavier poles, but a multi-species angler might feel they can’t find the right option with only lengths of 6’9″ and 7′ to choose from.
The Shimano SLX uses 24-ton carbon blanks and while 24-ton graphite might not immediately scream “premium carbon blank,” it more than does its job.
Keep in mind that some of the finest options that deliver solid all-round performance use this material, though for “true” tournament-grade performance you may want to look for stronger materials.
Thankfully, this doesn’t affect the Shimano SLX’s ultimate level of performance as the handle uses a combination of high-density EVA foam and carbon fiber.
While certainly not standard, the use of both materials together accounts for some of the sensitivity lost with the use of the more flexible 24-ton graphite fibers for the blank.
Accounting for the lack of rigidity in the blank shows with the custom reel seat as well which also utilizes carbon fibers.
Not only does this design reduce the pole’s weight and increase its durability, but, as carbon graphite, it further increases the sensitivity and allows more vibration to reach your hands (since one hand often sits on the reel anyway).
The Shimano SLX doesn’t afford the widest range of options when choosing the action rating with only fast and extra-fast options available.
Granted the middlegrip length and reargrip length combine to provide an excellent base to cast from, but this is all the more reason that actions slower than fast could work.
That said, the fast and extra-fast actions ensure that you really don’t have to worry about accuracy when casting while the lengths of 6’9″ and 7′ provide some distance.
Still, you shouldn’t expect the Shimano SLX to break any “personal bests” when casting– even with competitive anglers.
Though, it’s worth noting that thanks to this arrangement, you shouldn’t have many issues fishing in smaller waters– even with a longer rod.
This is another aspect where the Shimano SLX doesn’t wow anyone with a wide range of options, topping out at medium-heavy power.
On top of that, only the medium-heavy power would potentially be suitable for saltwater fishing, though this can actually work for mobile anglers moving from one location to another without having to change out your rods too much.
Still, the Shimano SLX power ratings center on medium power and don’t deviate too far from the center with only one medium-light and two medium-heavy models.
This can definitely limit this fishing pole to a certain type of angler, but a more experienced angler should still be able to get a bit more mileage out of the rod than others.
The Shimano SLX uses titanium oxide semi-micro guides, fully within the premium components range, which is all the more surprising in a budget-friendly option.
Titanium oxide guides basically blend the best aspects from both stainless steel and aluminum oxide without suffering the same kind of limited ceiling you see with composite materials with other parts.
Taking it a step further, the Shimano SLX’s use of top-notch components means you don’t have to worry about replacing the guides as often due to their strength and durability– another positive for the budget-minded angler.
On the flip side, titanium oxide is still fairly smooth, much smoother than stainless steel.
One thing to note is that the “semi-micro guides” further prevent the line from hitting the blank as you cast.
When combined with the smoothness of titanium oxide, these features go a long way to preventing and reducing tangles.
Handle (material, shape, etc)
The Shimano SLX takes an uncommon approach to its handle design with the use of a high-density EVA rear grip.
The use of high-density EVA foam is a bit disappointing in terms of durability as well as grip, but it is generally more comfortable than cork. However, this fishing pole’s handle doesn’t stop there as it also includes carbon fiber
The sensitive carbon foregrip provides a combination of sensitivity and a firm body, transferring subtle vibrations throughout the foregrip length.
Unsatisfied leaving the Shimano SLX with that alone, this rod also comes with a carbon monocoque butt.
Not only does this increase the durability when bracing, but it also increases the handle’s sensitivity even more.
Type of Rod
While the Shimano SLX is a sensitive spinning rod, it distinguishes itself further as a pole designed for finesse style fishing.
Keep in mind that competitive anglers regularly employ finesse fishing products as part of their fishing arsenal, but it may not appeal to everyone– like a bass angler.
Bass fishing gear generally focuses more on the fight.
However, a multi-species angler will often need to employ a different fishing style, and even an experienced bass angler dealing with timid or skittish fish will use versatile actions
Uses (Who is this good for)
While the Shimano SLX doesn’t come in at a “true” entry-level price point, it should still garner attention from bass anglers who demand a certain level of performance in an affordable price range.
Still, even a budget-minded angler looks for tournament-grade performance, and Shimano SLX’s blend of price and dependable components meets that mark.
However, the classic finesse components of the Shimano SLX do make this model more for an experienced casting angler who wants to use heavier finesse techniques.
That said, the lack of a true heavy power rating and many of the brand’s range of signature technologies offer a general solid all-round performance more than tournament-grade performance.
That said, while the Shimano SLX works well for versatile anglers, it won’t work for every type of angler– especially for saltwater fishing.
Use of this rod on the coast by anglers might make for a short fishing trip as the compact body still places an emphasis on sensitivity and highlight’s the brand’s approach to performance (a specialized one).
Reel and Real Seat Compatibility
The Shimano SLX custom reel seat shows the company focusing on seats for performance over those just trying to shave off a few bucks from the cost of manufacturing.
Discerning anglers will also notice that this reel seat perfectly fits the Shimano SLX Casting Reel as the former was explicitly designed for the latter.
This reel seat allows for both the Shimano SLX DC and Shimano SLX XT reels, taking full advantage of the Shimano Stable Spool Design.
This focus ensures that you can equip premium components at virtually every point on the pole without having to worry about either the middlegrip length or the reargrip length.
Conclusion (Wrap Up)
While the Shimano SLX isn’t exactly an expensive fishing rod, neither is it a properly budget-friendly option either.
However, a balance between sensitivity and a body for durability combined with classic finesse components still make it an affordable option.
That said, a budget-friendly angler may very well rejoice with all of the high-end components used.
The blank may not necessarily be anything to brag about, but neither is it deficient in any way either.
However, the use of titanium oxide for the guides as well as the prodigious use of carbon graphite throughout the handle and reel seat significantly increases this rod’s overall sensitivity.
When you add everything all together, the Shimano SLX is actually an incredibly affordable option— even if it has a mid-tier price.